New ANZ research shows members of Australia's LGBTIQ community are three times more likely to feel uncomfortable holding hands in public than other Australians.
ANZ commissioned the research as part of its 11-year partnership with Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. It found 94% of Australians say everyone should feel comfortable holding hands in public, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, yet only 43% of the LGBTIQ community are truly at ease to do so.
It also showed 52 per cent of the LGBTIQ community have felt uncomfortable to hold hands in public compared with 18 per cent of the wider public.
ANZ's Managing Director of Corporate and Commercial banking, Mark Hand, who is also Chair of ANZ's Diversity Council, said: 'A simple gesture like holding hands in public is something all Australians should feel comfortable doing, yet our research shows members of the LGBTI community are three times more likely to feel uncomfortable with this basic display of affection.
'This highlights just one of the challenges that many members of the LGBTIQ community face in everyday situations. At ANZ we want to make a difference by helping people understand these issues and encourage the LGBTIQ community to hold tight and stay strong," Mr Hand said.
Commenting on the research, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras CEO, Terese Casu said: 'This highlights the daily pressures that the LGBTIQ community faces. It's a simple and loving gesture to hold your partner's hand, however for fear of discrimination, and experiences in violence and abuse – the reality is that many in the community still don't feel safe. We love the awareness that ANZ is raising about this issue for the community."
ANZ has started the campaign with a video on its social media channels and, in collaboration with Twitter, has developed an emoji of two hands that will appear when the hashtag #HoldTight is used.
For more information, visit anz.com/holdtight and follow @ANZ_AU on Twitter, Instagram or facebook.com/ANZAustralia for live updates.
Question: How did it feel to hear 'the LGBTIQ community is three times more likely than non-LGBTIQ to feel uncomfortable performing this basic gesture of love: holding hands in public"?
Carolyn Bendall: It's sad that in 2017 the simple gesture of holding your partner's hand is uncomfortable for so many people in the LGBTIQ community. Our research revealed that while 94% of Australians say everyone should feel comfortable holding hands in public, only 43% of the LGBTIQ community are truly at ease to do so. Many staff members from ANZ's internal Pride Network also spoke about their own personal experiences when it comes to LGBTIQ couples holding hands and while there is more support and acceptance these days the reality is that many people in the community still don't feel entirely safe.
Question: What originally inspired ANZ to commission this particular research?
Carolyn Bendall: ANZ is committed to building a workplace culture of diversity, respect and inclusion and we've been a proud partner and participant of Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras for 11 years now.
We've had an incredible response to our GAYTM and GAYNZ campaigns over the past four years at Mardi Gras so this year we wanted to take our support further by raising awareness of the challenges the LGBTIQ face, such as the act of holding hands in public.
Question: Are any of the other findings surprising, to you?
Carolyn Bendall: The study found 94% of Australians say everyone should feel comfortable holding hands in public, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, yet the reality is that only 43% of the LGBTIQ community are truly at ease to do so. The campaign, therefore, is not only about encouraging LBGTIQ couples to feel more comfortable in public, but also to help everyone understand this issue and share their support.
Question: What do you hope ANZ can achieve now they are aware of this statistic?
Carolyn Bendall: It's a conversation we'd like to continue beyond Mardi Gras and we hope all Australians will encourage the LGBTIQ community to hold tight and be proud when they're out in public. Through supporting events like Mardi Gras we want other organisations to follow our lead by building diverse and inclusive workplaces and communities.
Question: What is the #HoldTight campaign?
Carolyn Bendall: Our aim is for this simple gesture of holding hands in public to be something that everyone feels comfortable doing.
We've brought the #HoldTight message to life in a number of ways starting with a film that captures moments of couples in everyday situations holding hands and letting go.
Employees from ANZ's Pride Network, who we look to as a voice for the LGBTIQ community, shared their perspectives on film which we shared on social media and with our staff.
In collaboration with Twitter we developed a Twitter emoji of two hands holding which appeared when #HoldTight is used on Twitter.
GAYTMs at our Oxford Street branch in Sydney and Ponsonby branch in Auckland were designed with a holding hands theme.
Our float in the Mardi Gras parade included our #HoldTight logo with 200 ANZ marchers proudly dancing alongside it wearing wristbands that lit up when they held hands.
Question: Can you tell us about the #HoldTight short film?
Carolyn Bendall: The film highlights the struggle that many LBGTIQ couples experience when holding hands in public each day. The film ends by encouraging LBGTIQ couples to hold tight and not let go when they're out in public. By including the hashtag #HoldTight in the film we're encouraging everyone to join the conversation and show their support for the LGBTIQ community.
Public sentiment has been overwhelmingly positive with the film shared across all social platforms and receiving over two million views in the week it was released. Now several weeks later, it has been shared over 35,000 times and viewed more that 7.4 million times, across ANZ's Australian and New Zealand social media channels.
Question: Why is the #HoldTight campaign important for ANZ?
Carolyn Bendall: ANZ is committed to building a culture of diversity, respect and inclusion in our workplace and our 11 year partnership with Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras started from our own ANZ Pride network of staff.
The campaign aims to build on this partnership, and celebrate the simple act of couples holding hands and make it mainstream conversation. We hope to make a difference by using the power of our brand to help people understand challenges like these and encourage the LGBTIQ community to stay strong.
Question: How can Australians support the LGBTIQ community and ANZ project?
Carolyn Bendall: Australians can support the campaign by spreading our message and the video on social media using #HoldTight.
For more information visit anz.com/holdtight and follow @ANZ_AU on Twitter, Instagram or facebook.com/ANZAustralia for live updates.
Interview by Brooke Hunter